4.11.2013

Review: Satchel & Page Austin Messenger Bag


Features:

  • 20 oz. waxed canvas
  • 138 Polyester thread
  • YKK Zippers
  • 420D Nylon interior
  • separate neoprene padded compartment (fits a 15” laptop and smaller)

Dimensions:

height 11", width 16", depth 5"

Review:

Satchel & Page handmakes all of their bags in Austin, Texas using high-quality materials. Each purchase is shipped free domestically with a handwritten "thank you" note that is incidental but helps reinforce the "made especially for you" philosophy. The waxed canvas feels rugged, looks and ages well, and gives the bag a unique look. The shoulder strap is of the same hardy material. The bag is very roomy and easily fits a laptop, an iPad in a Portenzo case, and whatever other items you neurotically feel the need to bring everywhere, just in case. The materials make the bag slightly heavy even empty, and the it can feel rough when rubbing against your back (even through clothing) unless you adjust the strap correctly, but that is just tradeoff for the durabilty of the waxed canvas. The bag looks great and is a unique alternative to the Chrome and Timbuk2 bags seen on every other urbanite walking down the street.

I was unable to find any pictures of the interior before purchasing, but the inside pockets are well laid out and constructed. The "laptop" compartment features a leather strap with a magnet closure, stylish, but unnecessary in practice. The nylon fabric goes nicely with the slate color scheme I purchased, and I can guess the other options (oak and tan) are similarly well coordinated.
The front closure is a single metal fastener passed through a simple slit and hole cut in the leather, attractive in its simplicity, but it frustratingly comes undone constantly. The top flap is long and heavy enough to keep itself closed, but I would have preferred something more secure.
Front closure
The bottom, which appeared stiff in the store photo, is actually fairly flexible leather with metal feet, the latter another confusing choice of form over function since—without a rigid structure—they don’t protecting the bottom from coming in contact with the floor and just offer a chance to scratch hardwood or tile.
Bottom stiffness: store image(left) vs reality
My main concern is the top flap does not always adequately cover the main opening (depending on the shape and weight of the contents), negating the waterproofing benefits of waxed canvas. You can somewhat tuck the sides in before folding the flap down, but, again, the store photo misleadingly showed two protective flaps that would help keep rain out (visible in the "bottom stiffness" image above).
Flap gap

Conclusion: 80 out of 100

Stylish, durable and with more than enough capacity, the Austin Messenger is hampered by a poorly designed front flap which doesn't stay closed or adequately keep out the rain. Minor issues like the weight (which is an inescapable result of the rugged materials) and some baffling design choices are mostly inconsequential. If you want a great looking bag you won't see a dozen other people carrying, and are willing to either risk some rain getting in or own a waterproof laptop sleeve, I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you plan on carrying your bag for long distances or durations in inclement weather, you may want to go with a more mainstream all-weather bag.

2 comments:

Eric Ingles said...

Not sure who Austin Messenger is but Satchel Paige was one hell of a player

Jeremiah Britt said...

Damn sports nerd.